Trade Policy and Labour Standards: Objectives, Instruments, and Institutions
31 Pages Posted: 1 May 2002
Date Written: December 2001
This paper largely focuses on the potential interface between international trade policy and international labour standards in the WTO multilateral trading system. The paper proceeds by reviewing sequentially the choice of policy objectives, the choice of policy instruments, and the choice of institutional regime in structuring a trade policy-labour standards linkage. On choice of objective, the paper argues for assimilating core labour standards (CLS) with universal human rights, but not privileging CLS over other universal human rights. It rejects fair trade and race-to-the-bottom rationales for a trade policy-labour standards linkage. On choice of instrument, it rejects conditioning the linkage of trade sanctions to universal human rights on adverse trade effects in the sanctioning country. On choice of institutional arrangement, it favours according a pre-eminent institutional role to the ILO and U.N. Human Rights Committees in making determinations of systematic and persistent violations of relevant universal human rights, leaving the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO with the determination of whether trade sanctions with violators have been applied in a non-discriminatory and consistent fashion and meet some basic standard of proportionality.
Keywords: trade policy, labour standards
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation